MORE OF THE SAME MEANS NO CHRISTMAS CHEER for Kenneth McFarlane, Account Director

Apparently all it takes to develop a reputation as a Grinch or Scrooge around this time of year is to announce your disapproval of Will Ferrell’s “Elf” movie.

But I might not have helped my case by negatively critiquing every Christmas advert that has been released this year.

But this is not based on some anti-festive sentiment.  It’s based on years of repetition from advertisers who have gotten lazy with their planning.

Not singling John Lewis out, but this year Moz the Monster is the worst offender; a complicated, confused narrative to deliver yet another must-have Christmas cuddly toy – complete with “the world’s first farting and snoring window display” in London.

I don’t get it – and I’m not the only one.  You don’t have to exist in our media bubble to express confusion over the latest million-pound Christmas investment, or a host of other brands’ imitations.

And imitations are exactly what they are.  What John Lewis started superbly a decade ago was sweet, heartfelt and crucially it was different.  Moreover, it seemed very John Lewis.  But with every year came a new attempt to make the nation cry and inevitably a law of diminishing returns.  And every year brought more brands jumping on the bandwagon, jealous of how John Lewis had come to ‘own’ Christmas advertising.  Some of them even did it better, but the clutter that comes from multiple mini-movies is too much now.

Have a look at the big hitters’ efforts this year – what’s their point of differentiation?  Attribution is more and more difficult.  Which one is Paddington in, again?  Is he John Lewis or Debenhams?  Ewan McGregor shops in M&S I think?

Media planners should be striving to deliver innovation with every campaign but it seems a few of the bigger brands have missed the memo.

A big, emotional TV campaign is the same answer to the same question posed a decade ago.  But TV no longer offers as many opportunities for huge audiences and live viewing has dropped 14% since 2010.  And while digital media now plays a huge part in these campaigns, the emotional impact is just not the same.  It’s also over all too quickly as audiences seek them out on day #1.

I’m not saying TV’s the wrong answer – but when everyone else is doing the same thing, it becomes wallpaper.  And if you’re going to do TV, then try something different!  Have a look at Sainsbury’s this year and how they are standing out by steering clear of overly produced story-led ads.

Or what about a different lead medium entirely?  The same kind of investment in out of home could dominate the channel with cool formats, dressing cities with Christmas cheer.

It’s time for John Lewis and others to realise they’re all going down the same route.  Do something different next year and they’ll reap the rewards.  That’s what I’ll be asking Santa for at least…

CAN THE BANNER AD BE RESUSCITATED? by Simon Watson, Head of Digital

Having famously complained: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half”, it would be interesting to see what John Wanamaker made of the banner landscape in 2017.

In 2017, banner viewability (ads seen by a person) in the UK is just 52% – the lowest in the western world.

Given the attribution and research tools available, ad viewability could and should be 100%. So why isn’t it?

The problem lies in “performance” campaigns – those aimed at driving an acquisition.

Click based conversions are almost non-existent meaning campaigns are reliant on post-view conversions – a banner is served and a user later finds their way to site and converts.  But if impressions are never seen,  they haven’t influenced the user and they would have converted regardless?  It’s like attributing a conversion to a press ad that appears on page 42 of a 40 page newspaper. Continue reading “CAN THE BANNER AD BE RESUSCITATED? by Simon Watson, Head of Digital”


In 2006, the ‘Me Too’ movement was created by Tarana Burke, a Brooklyn-native activist who sought to ‘empower through empathy’. The campaign focused on women of colour, particularly from underprivileged communities, who had previously experienced sexual abuse.

The campaign caught fire in October this year when actress Alyssa Milano wrote this Tweet in reaction to the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations:

The effect was unmissable and brought a behind-closed-doors topic firmly into the public domain. It seems naive to say the results were shocking, yet scrolling through my own newsfeed, I was struck by how often I read: ‘me too’. Continue reading “SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT by Ruth Kroch, Media Assistant”

THE EVER INCREASING OPPORTUNITY OF ONLINE TV AND VIDEO by Charlotte Bell, Head of Insight and Strategy

Simon Crunden’s last post ( revealed ‘jaw-dropping shifts in time spent with on and offline media’, which prompted me to take a closer look under the bonnet of the new Touchpoints 2017 release.  First up is TV and video, which is still the largest media platform – on average we spend a staggering 4 hours 11 minutes per day consuming TV and video content.

There’s no surprise that online video is the fastest growing element of this, up 280% since 2014, so I thought I’d focus my investigations here. Don’t get me wrong, the big screen in our living rooms remains the most powerful mass communication channel with 83% of our TV/video viewing done on a TV set, but online TV and video offers a tremendous opportunity to extend this.

Whatever your audience, online TV and video has a role to play, even the over 55’s spend 1 hour 37 minutes per week with the channel. However, if you’re targeting the under 35’s then you can’t afford to ignore it – they spend 1 hour 11 minutes per day watching TV and video online. It’s also a good way to up-weight the relatively light traditional TV viewing region of London, with 70% of Londoners consuming the channel on a weekly basis.

The challenge though for media planners is the plethora of consumer access points to online TV and video, from the high quality content of broadcaster and subscription based VOD, to user generated content that proliferates sites like YouTube and Facebook. Let’s take a closer look at the non-traditional TV/video viewing platforms:

With the exception of YouTube, it’s the non-ad funded channels that deliver greatest reach. Last week Netflix announced it has outstripped its own growth expectations in Q3 with 5.3 million new subscribers, and this is certainly borne out in the TouchPoints data. For the under 35’s, Netflix is now the second largest video content site with almost 40% accessing it on a weekly basis, likely to be a result of their continual investment in quality, original content. Sky On Demand is the current star of the commercial broadcaster VOD services, interestingly its weekly reach has grown 58% since the TouchPoints 2016 release and in that time it has overtaken both ITV and All 4 to claim the top spot (by a whisker) for commercial broadcaster VOD. The over 55’s though are more likely to turn to the ITV Hub and the under 35’s to All 4. So from a media planning perspective, the simple answer is no one ad-funded channel is big enough to deliver huge reach, it needs a mix, and that needs to be optimised based on the audience and campaign objectives – not too dissimilar from any other channel then?


One of the best answers I’ve heard to the question “where will media be in 10 years” came from Damon Berger at FullScreen (An LA based MCN): “we don’t have enough perspective to understand the LAST 10 years, let alone the next 10”

The pace of change has been bewilderingly fast, but if you can get some perspective on the past, you might, just, have a chance to plan for the future.

The latest IPA Touchpoints Time Diary research release gives me a chance to rehash one of my very favourite pieces of insight: how are minutes per day of media consumption changing.

The results are again, astonishing.


Commercial radio minutes are down 31% in 4 years. Time spent on messaging apps for 18-24s is nearing 2 hours per day (up 600% since 2013!).

Hopefully the image below speaks for itself but email, tweet or comment with questions or to discuss. Or give me a call – I like talking about this.

Get agile or get overtaken.